Tuesday, August 25, 2015

On the locavore scale

Chisago City farmers market
Chisago City farmers market
Photo by J. Harrington

I have long been a locavore and, as I've aged, have become more unshakably so. I now have proof that those tendencies are native to my original home bioregion, New England. According to the latest locavore index, the top three states "that do best in consuming locally-produced food are Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire... in that order." As I'm sure you know, each of those is a New England state. Massachusetts, where I was born and raised, is number five. Minnesota now comes in 11th, but that's a notable improvement from the first index in 2012, when we were only 17th. Now that Minnesota is home, I'm looking forward to seeing us continue to improve until we bump Oregon or New Hampshire out to take a place in the top five.

Chisago City farmers market
Chisago City farmers market
Photo by J. Harrington

Two of the indices on which it looks like we could stand major improvements are food hubs and farmers markets, we rank 21st on each. If I'm reading the data correctly, the four food hubs in Minnesota listed on the locavore index are notably fewer than those listed in UMN's Regional Sustainable Development Partnership information. There may be something to look into here and to call to someone's attention. Being shortchanged on a locavore index may not be quite as bad as being (incorrectly and unfairly) listed as being among the "ugliest" places to live, but it doesn't help our reputation with the growing number of foodies and locavores in the national labor market. I do remember that it was a Massachusetts politician, Tip O'Neil, former Speaker of the House, who was known to have observed that "all politics is local." He was right about politics, but he may as well also have been speaking about  life, economic development, food, literature, or poetry.

Market Women’s Cries

By Jonathan Swift 


         Come buy my fine wares,
         Plums, apples and pears.
         A hundred a penny,
         In conscience too many:
         Come, will you have any?
         My children are seven,
         I wish them in Heaven;
         My husband’s a sot,
         With his pipe and his pot,
         Not a farthen will gain them,
         And I must maintain them.


         Come, follow me by the smell,
         Here are delicate onions to sell;
         I promise to use you well.
         They make the blood warmer,
         You’ll feed like a farmer;
For this is every cook’s opinion,
No savoury dish without an onion;
But, lest your kissing should be spoiled,
Your onions must be thoroughly boiled:
         Or else you may spare
         Your mistress a share,
The secret will never be known:
         She cannot discover
         The breath of her lover,
But think it as sweet as her own.


         Be not sparing,
         Leave off swearing.
         Buy my herring
         Fresh from Malahide,
         Better never was tried.
Come, eat them with pure fresh butter and mustard,
Their bellies are soft, and as white as a custard.
Come, sixpence a dozen, to get me some bread,
Or, like my own herrings, I soon shall be dead. 

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